All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Maine State House

Among the buildings featured in the Library of Congress' Built in America collection is the Maine State House—designed by eminent architect Charles Bulfinch, who drew up the plans while serving as architect of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. It includes historical depictions of the building, and descriptions of its construction and subsequent renovations. An excerpt:
Physical History:
  1. Date of erection: 1829-1832.
  2. Architect: Charles Bulfinch. The only documented work of Bulfinch from his last 14 years.
  3. Original and subsequent owners: Weston Hill, the site of the Capitol, was bought from Judy Weston by the citizens of Augusta in 1823. It was accepted as the site of the State Capitol in 1827.
  4. Builders and suppliers: Bulfinch drew up the plans; the construction of the building was supervised by William King, who was at that time Commissioner of State Buildings. King supervised the construction of the walls, arcade, colonnade, pediment and the base of the dome. Completion of the building was achieved under the direction of Revel Williams.
It is noted in James W. North's History of Augusta (1870) that the cornerstone of the building was laid on July 4, 1829, "with imposing Masonic ceremonies."
Under the stone were deposited the Constitution of the State; various publications of the day; the coins of the country; and a plate with the following inscription:
State of Maine.
On the fifty-third Anniversary of the Independence of the United States,
this
CORNERSTONE

Of a building to be erected for the accommodation of the Legislature and Executive Departments of the Government, is laid by the
Grand Lodge,
In presence of Enoch Lincoln, Governor.
Andrew Jackson,
President of the United States.
John C. Calhoun,
Vice President.
John Marshal, Chief Justice.
Needless to say, Jackson, Calhoun, and Marshall did not actually attend.

In 1909-10, the 185-foot central copper-covered dome was added (the House and Senate wings also have domes, but less prominent). Ever wonder whose statue stands atop that dome?
A 12' copper-gilt statue of Augusta by W. Clark Noble of Augusta was added to the top of the new dome. The city is represented as a female figure crowned with pine boughs, holding a pine cone in the left hand, and a raised pine torch in the right.

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